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Tiltepec, Oaxaca

Have You Tried Surfing In the Mud?

see also In Search of Pottery
see also Tales of the Heart
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Santa Marķa Magdelena Tiltepec is about 15 miles NW of Puerto Escondido (straight-line distance)
A six week disaster relief aide trip to Oaxaca's rural coastal communities, left me enough shocking memories of how some of Oaxaca's precious rural people attempt to surf on mud!
When I visited Tiltepec, a mountain village one hour from the hot international surfing town of Puerto Escondido, fifteen hungry women gathered at a literally "sticks and stones" rudimentary kitchen at the town's square. They cook soy meat for 200 people and that will be the nutrition for the day. A simple tortilla here is a luxury. The normal menu sits on the floor, offering one skinny pile of dried corn on your left and a large one of rotten husks to your right. Not many "cooks" either and few healthy hands to work the grains into tortillas. Further up the hill we find "Raymundo" on the floor, moving as if he was swimming about the red clay floor. Raymundo is a 22-year old epileptic Indian boy that has never sat, walked, talked, is deaf, brain damaged and with a grotesque gingivitis that does nothing for his timid smile. Raymundo weighed 28 kilos. The epileptic and deaf population at Tiltepec is a sky high 40%.
Knowing that one cannot survive solely on corn tortillas one wonders how do they keep living? Well, let me ask you what is your definition for the word LIFE?. Life should not be a mere existence of human flesh in a continuos state of limbo, amidst extreme poverty and severe impairing disabilities. Stray dogs live more plentiful and healthier lives than my friends from Tiltepec, how is that for fairness? Paralyzed, epileptic, deaf, underfed and destitute in a third world country. Here you are not completely born when you are already dead. Time to re-coin the old phrase "dust to dust", here mud and humans truthfully mold into one and way before death.
To give you a better picture try comparing Ethiopia with California. Nothing compares. There the dilemma is how much inhuman living and natural disasters are possible for one culture to endure? Here the big question is what sports car to drive this year. There it's not non-organic foods which are killing humans, its no food at all and plenty of ravaging health killers. Poverty a decorative word far understated in this world. Their life? Human's worst misery severing human pride and slowly squeezing their hearts. Now spell OAXACA (wa-ha-ka) instead of Ethiopia and the conditions are a cloning of the same virus infecting human lives. Except Oaxaca, of course you know, is good old "Amigo" - Mexico!
Uncomfortable living arrangements to say the least. Try climbing red clay hills to get to your four cracked old adobe walls and a faint asbestos roof for home. No cement floors. The toilets? Say what? Kitchens? Only one at the town's square. Handicapped facilities for Raymundo? Only 80 miles to Piña Palmera. Their transport? Rough and callused feet!
No food and much pride. Yet Tiltepec is one of the better villages, so they say. Its people, despite the pitiful scenes depicted right in front of your very choked heart and mind, are people of pride. They don't have much skill or food to spare, but nature gives them red clay and healthy hands shape it into simple beautiful clay pots. Worse off than animals, yet here the human spirit prevails, show them a smile they'll show you their charm and a clay gift for you. Good as Gold if you ask me.
So is there a spiritual purpose for these humans living worse than stray animals? Something unreal happens in third world countries where dogs can bark louder than humans can talk to get deserving help. And everybody is too busy to notice these things or perhaps I love too much or I dream too big or possibly, just maybe, I am really one from another galaxy, but in my world we don't kill we let live and in my galaxy we don't take we give. Perhaps you want to visit Tiltepec and decide if surfing in the mud is really any life at all. Take a stand, be a good friend, get informed and make a difference.


Copyrighted Material, April 1998

Tiltepec You're On My Mind

Often times I think how the sound waves bring you closer to me
only it is not a dream when I see you barely standing on your feet,
people of strength, friends from the seas
my heart weeps for you my soul sings of you
cannot understand the grief and the path you so think is life
don't want to weep more because I intend to broadcast you all
because I will never forget your timid faces, and the ugly places
it isn't you, only your fate that has sucked you up in a dark hole
one that spoils the living sending down multiple shivers
to create an illusion of life, one that you don't really have
I do know one thing. Your life is real misery
and though I cannot save a whole world of you
I pray good Samaritans will come forth
to divide such world and rescue you all
seems impossible until I remember your sad faces
and when I walked up to your door and found
a high price to pay and great misery everywhere

Like a dagger in my soul, to see you in vivid colorful pictures
Only to come out like thick mud
No one deserves to be buried alive
no one deserves to be ignored at all
And specially knowing the kind that you are,
people of pride people of strength
People so undeserving of the fate that swallows you whole
Lets all "act" and pray that this world will forever change some day soon
For the better not the worse
For your life and not your death!

Copyrighted material

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